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The Best Green, Eco-friendly and Natural Cleaning Products for Beginners
Up until a few years ago, I never stopped to consider what I was using to clean my home. Growing up it was just normal to use conventional cleaners. One day, I decided to read the label on one of my favorite cleaners and man did that open a can of worms!
Our home is the place where we hang out, rest and care for our loved ones. No one wants to live in a place that is polluted with harmful chemicals. Luckily, you can prevent harm to yourself and our planet by using a few simple green cleaning products.
I started researching what I was using and finding healthier alternatives that actually worked. I’m happy to say I did and I will never go back to the harmful junk I used to clean my home with.
What is Green Cleaning?
Did you know that many of the ingredients used in store-bought cleaning products, even the natural ones, have been found to be carcinogenic, endocrine disruptors and even trigger asthma, allergies, and skin irritations to name just a few? Then they end up washing down our drains or ending up in landfills, where pollutants seep into the soil and ocean where they cause major damage. Ugg!
Simply put, green cleaning means using cleaning products and practices that are safe for us, our loved ones, and our planet.
Green Cleaning Misconception
A lot of people believe that the ‘natural’ and ‘eco-friendly’ cleaning products we buy at the store are better choices. However, the ‘green’ cleaning products we find at the store is more often than not a great example of greenwashing. This is the common practice of a product being marketed as natural and eco-friendly while they can’t back up their claims.
The worst part is that it’s completely legal and makes it really difficult to find cleaning products that are truly green, effective and affordable.
This is why making your own green cleaners is great. Homemade green cleaners can be the greenest option because you can control the ingredients to ensure they are safe and eco-friendly, while also being cost-effective and time-efficient!
If you haven’t yet, read my Beginners Guide to Green Cleaning, where I explain everything you need to know before you get started.
Why Do DIY Green Cleaners Fail?
Anyone who has ever looked online or tried making their own natural cleaners knows how many DIY recipes there are. These range from super effective to absolutely disastrous and leave many people wasting time, ingredients and sometimes ends with gunk on the floor…
Most green cleaners fail because they use the wrong ingredients for the task or the wrong combinations. Some mixtures combine ingredients that neutralize their cleaning effect while others create chemicals reactions that make an even bigger mess or become dangerous.
To Green Clean Effectively You Need To Know:
- Which ingredients are safe and eco-friendly (see below!)
- How to use natural cleaning ingredients
- Which ingredient combinations to NEVER mix
- Which cleaning combinations are effective for certain tasks
- Which eco-friendly cleaning tools will make your life easier.
If you want to start off on the right foot, grab my FREE Ebook that I wish I’d had when I was a green cleaning beginner!
The Best Green Cleaning Products To Clean Your Entire Home
You really only need 11 simple and versatile ingredients that can be used to make natural cleaners for your entire house. Many of these you probably already own!
Green Cleaning Ingredient #1:
Bicarbonate of Soda
Baking Soda, also known as sodium bicarbonate, is one of the most incredible ingredients to clean your home and even safe to eat.
Use for: Removing dirt, grease, grime, and odors.
Ingredient Caution: Unless you want to waste money, never combine baking soda and vinegar (they neutralize each other).
Green Cleaning Ingredient #2:
Super Washing Soda
Washing soda, also known as sodium carbonate, is a super strong base that is able to destroy organic tissue.
Use for: Although not edible like baking soda, it is amazing at cutting grease, oil, wax, and scour away stains!
Ingredient Caution: It is more abrasive than baking soda it can scratch delicate surfaces. Wear reusable gloves when handling it too!
Green Cleaning Ingredient #3:
Use for: Castile soap is used to clean just about anything: from hands to laundry!
Ingredient Caution: Castile soap should never be combined with vinegar and I would not recommend washing your hair with it.
Green Cleaning Ingredient #4:
Sal Suds is not a soap but a concentrated all-purpose detergent that is more effective than regular soap. It’s an absolute must-have and super cost-effective!
Use for: Removing stubborn grease, dirt, and tough stains.
Ingredient Caution: You only need to use a drop or two, unless you like spending overtime cleaning suds! This ingredient is a little controversial in the natural community but it gets a top rating on EWG.
Green Cleaning Ingredient #5:
Although the smell can be pungent at first, natural white vinegar is a staple in a green and natural home’s cleaning toolkit.
Use for: Disinfecting, eliminating odors, and removing dirt, stains, mold, and mildew.
Ingredient Caution: Vinegar can’t be used on every surface (like marble and granite). It should also never be combined with baking soda, castile soap or hydrogen peroxide.
Green Cleaning Ingredient #6:
Pure essential oils are the best secret weapon in green cleaning with antibacterial, antiviral and antifungal properties.
Use for: natural fragrance, killing microbes, cleaning surfaces, sticky spots, and more. My favorites for cleaning are lavender, melaleuca (tea tree), lemon, oregano, wild orange, and clove, amongst others.
Ingredient Caution: Fragrance oils are not the same as essential oils, and are often synthetic, unsustainably made and carry all sorts of additives. In case you’re curious, I have chosen to use this brand.
Green Cleaning Ingredient #7:
Weird choice right? But pure unscented vodka (ethanol) is a great green cleaning tool and has virtually no smell.
Use for: disinfecting surfaces, make all natural air freshener spray and DIY window/mirror cleaner!
Tip: Any cheap pure vodka will do the trick!
Green Cleaning Ingredient #8:
Olive oil is a surprising ingredient that can help us clean!
Use for: Polishing furniture and wood. It will loosen up any grease, stains or stickiness and leave it shiny and clean.
I just use the one I have laying around the kitchen as I use it sparingly, but if you want to keep (a cheaper) one just for cleaning that’s cool too!
Green Cleaning Ingredient #9:
Cornstarch is perfect for green cleaning because it is safe, slightly abrasive and great for absorbing any type of moisture, oil, and odor.
Use for: a cleansing scrub, carpet cleaner, glass cleaner, to natural dry shampoo and eliminating foot odors.
Green Cleaning Ingredient #10:
Salt is a mineral that adds grit to green cleaners.
Use for: I use more coarse salt to scrub pots and pans and finer salt to make homemade dish detergent.
You can use any salt at a bargain, it will work just the same!
Green Cleaning Ingredient #11:
Hydrogen peroxide might sound a little scary but break down harmlessly into water and oxygen.
Use for: a great natural alternative to bleach to brighten fabric and lighten tough stains. I also use it in my all-purpose bathroom cleaning scrub.
Ingredient caution: Never combine hydrogen peroxide and vinegar. This creates peracetic acid which is highly corrosive and can cause lung damage.
Green Cleaning Booster #1:
Enzyme Drain Cleaner
Earth Enzymes is a safe, natural way to open and maintain your drains by digesting food particles, grease, fats, and other human wastes without generating heat or malodors.
Green Cleaning Booster #3:
Vegetable Glycerin is hygroscopic, which means that it absorbs moisture from the air, and is a natural way to moisturize and soften.
I mostly use this in lotions and other beauty products but we also use it as a natural laundry softener.
The Last Thing You Need to Know about Green Cleaning Products
Green cleaning is one of the best decisions you can make for yourself and the environment. Green cleaning does not have to be any harder than cleaning with harmful chemicals. In fact, with the ingredients above and the right green cleaning recipes, you’ll be able to save not only time but also money.
Start with a few simple recipes today by grabbing my green cleaning crash course for free!
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Will You Try Green Cleaning? Do You Have Any Tips?
I am always learning and would love to hear from you. Please share in the comments below!
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Katelyn has a Masters degree in Nutrition & Health Sciences. She helps people find easy ways to live a healthy life. She loves everything related to nutrition, health, nature, travel, and personal development. She is also Carol’s right hand at Soul Essentials.